UniqueFire UF-F10 (2012-11-18)

UniqueFire UF-F10
Disclaimer: Light provided by Tmart.com for review

Specifications from site:

Brand UniqueFire
Model UF-F10
Emitter Type CREE T6
Lumens 1000 Lumens
Power 10W
Bulb Quantity 1
Light Color White
Lightbulb Lifespan 100000 hours
Modes 6
Mode Arrangement Hi > Mid > Lo > Strobe > SOS
Lighting Distance 100m
Battery Configuration 2 x 18650 Batteries (not included)
Input Voltage 7.4V-8.4V
Runtime 3-4 hours
Switch Type Clicky
Switch Location Tail-cap
Lens Coated Glass Lens
Reflector Aluminum Smooth / SMO Reflector
Material Aerospace aluminum alloy
Color Black
Dimensions 6.42″ x 1.89″ x 1.61″ / (16.3 x 4.8 x 4.1) cm (L x Head Dia. x Body Dia.)
Weight 259 g / 9.14 oz
Waterproof Yes

 

My Specifications:

Dimensions
Lens: 41.7mm x 1.66mm
Pill: 45mm x 9.27mm
Reflector: 42.78mm x 31.05mm
Emitter: Cree XM-L T6 1C
Modes
Group 1 Low > Medium 1 > Medium 2 > High
Group 2 Strobe > SOS
Memory: No
OTF Output
High 544 OTF
Medium 2 246.5 OTF
Medium 1 57.7 OTF
 Low 17.31 OTF
Primary switch: Forward clicky (main power)
Secondary Switch Momentary (mode selection)
Price: $26.63
Provided by: Tmart.com

PROS

  • Very nice build quality
  • Clean threads.  Most all are square and anodized.
  • Threads came extremely well lubed with grease.
  • For putting out only 544 lumens at what I’d figure to be 1.7A to LED, it is extremely bright looking.
  • Fantastic throw for the reflector size and being mildly driven.
  • Super smooth, ringless spill.
  • 4 very useful modes.
  • Great low mode.
  • PWM exists but is higher than most budget lights.  Not noticable at all to me.
  • Arrived in very good shape with no scratches or nicks.
  • Momentary on for signalling
  • Separate mode switch
  • Separate mode groups.  Strobe modes are available but not until you want them.
  • Strobe is a changing police style alternating between rapid and normal.  Very effective!
  • Flat body is easy to hold and comfortable.  Fine ribbing provides great grip.
  • Plenty of room in cell cartridge for all 18650 cells, even those 18700 Xtars.
  • Great runtime.
  • Entire head, including reflector, is a 114.6g heatsink.
  • The price! $26.63 for a TK35 clone?? I don’t know how they do it but I’m not arguing.  If Tmart hadn’t offered to provide this I would have bought it anyway.  I’ve been eyeing this one up for a long time.

CONS

  • Could easily handle more amperage.  Not as bright as the original TK35.
  • While the hot spot is very small, it does have a fairly large corona.
  • Always starts out on low and has no memory.  A negative for some and a plus for others.
  • Does have PWM in lower modes but is much better than most budget lights I have.

BUILD QUALITY

I expressed interest in this light to Louis Huang and he kindly offered me a coupon worth full value of the light in return for an honest review.  This was not a ringer light hand picked by Tmart for the review.  When this model finally hit the US warehouse I promptly ordered it from their site and received the light in the usual pre-popped bubble bag inside the standard crushed white box which, in turn, was in a non-padded plastic shipping bag.  Miraculously the light survived in perfect shape and working order.

Build quality of the light is really great.  All threads are square and anodized except for those on the actual pill and reflector.  Those are not anodized but are cleanly cut and glide smoothly into the square-cut anodized threads of the head.  Plenty of grease had been applied by the assembler and all o-rings are of the perfect diameter and thickness.  I will go into greater detail of the different areas as the pictures progress.

This light is a clone of the Fenix TK35 and does everything right to live up to that standard except that it could be driven a little stronger for higher output.  Dr. Jones did a comparison between another clone and the TK35 and the TK35 was a little bit brighter. I’d imagine the same would be found here.  Unlike the TK35’s plastic body, the UF-F10 is machined from aluminum billet and does everything right.  All parts disassemble easily and fit tightly.  Machining on the parts is great.  The superfine ribbing on the body provides excellent grip inspite of the fact that it looks like it wouldn’t.  All laser etching is clear and solid.

PERFORMANCE

In spite of the fact that it is way under driven, performance should be the UF-F10’s middle name.  It throws like a light far larger, provides a creamy smooth beam even though it has a smooth reflector, and has 4 very useful output levels while providing hidden but easily accessed blinky modes.  Even the strobe is a debilitating alternating type that will mess you up if you leave it on too long.

As you will see in the pictures, it has a very small hotspot and would appear to be the equal of the 980L/KE-5/BT-950L variety of highly regarded compact throwers.  With more juice being applied to the emitter it would more than hold it’s own against them all the while providing twice the runtime due to the parallel battery cartridge that runs the cells in series for 8.4 volts.

No green or purple tint from my example either.  While still a CW emitter, it must be a 1C tint due to the creamy white it puts out.  The 4 modes range from 17 easy lumens up to 544 OTF lumens on high.  It appears even brighter than that to the naked eye.  The only complaint I have about the beam profile itself is a rather large corona around the center hot spot.  The hot spot itself is as small as that on the HD2010 but on the HD2010 there is almost no corona, just a concentrated center spot.  You can see this later in the beam comparison photos.

Heat should be a non issue thanks to the huge pill and a massive reflector base that mates to the pill to create one gigantic heatsinking mass.  Combine that large mass with it’s combined inch of threads into the all aluminum head and the entire thing becomes a massive heat sink.  Go further and combine that to the aluminum body and you really have a winner.  The cells are isolated in a polymer cartridge style holder to insulate the cells from any heat being transferred from the body.

Speaking of the battery cartridge, the cartridge on this light contains all switches and driver.  The very large driver is not easily swapped out for a different one.  I plan to attache a variable POT resistor to dial in extra current in mine bringing it up to 3+ amps to the emitter.  The light is just too good to not crank up the amount of light potential it holds.  Our good DrJones upgraded his clone with one of his custom Nanjg drivers reprogrammed for use with secondary electronic switches but that also requires rewiring the actual cartridge from series to parallel.  I think my way will be just as effective but far simpler.

PICTURES

They say a picture speaks a thousand words so I will let the light itself do all the talking except for a little side commentary by me.  Here we go…

A very compact design, the body has a large, heavy head with a flat, easily pocketable body.  Perfect for a jacket pocket or for those of you with carpenter pants or cargo pockets.

 

The main body is flat due to the parallel battery format.  All transitions are tapered allowing fairly snag free entry and removal from your holster or pockets.  The UniqueFire logo and model are cleanly laser etched onto one side of the body.

 

The Cree log is etched into the opposite side of the body.

 

Some very cleanly machined finning increases surface area for more cooling capability.

 

Here you can easily see the flat body design and fine ribbing on the outer edges for grip.

 

A closer look at the laser etching and the nice machining of the flat and recessed areas.

 

The “Hot Surface” isn’t really all that hot due to the shear mass of the head and mildly driven emitter.  I hope to change that once my new POT resistors arrive.  Crazy

 

The indestructible dust in my house ruins what would be a great shot at a very clean, well designed reflector but still shows the perfectly centered Cree T6 emitter.

 

A closer look at the finning and ribbing on the body.

 

A good look at the excellent fine ribbing on the outer edges of the body.  They may not look it but they provide fantastic grip on the light while not being too rough like the knurling on some lights or too useless like the knurling on other lights.

 

At the rear of the light we find the switches. On the left is the smaller mode changing button and on the right, the larger forward-clicky main power switch with momentary on.  Lanyard holes on either side are large enough to fit 550 paracord or large split rings.

 

Here is a look at the torch opened in the middle with the cell cartridge out.

 

Take note at the extremely well-lubed, square-cut anodized threads in the head.  These run almost to the very front of the light.  All head components are accessed through the rear of the head.  There is no removable bezel and therefore one less threaded joint to worry about leaking.

 

Here is the contact PCB for the emitter.  There is no driver behind it.  The center spring is for the anode (+).  Note the even soldering nearly all around the base of the spring.  This tells me that care was taken by a skilled pro when being assembled.  The silver ring with the three raised prongs is for the cathode (-).  These 4 contact points mate with the rings on the actual driver PCB which is located in the battery cartridge.

 

Under that PCB we have the rather heavy gauge wires going directly to the emitter PCB.  Heavy solder beads anchor the outer cathode ring to the PCB from behind.  You can see just how massive this pill is.

 

Here is the pill removed from the head.  It contains the XM-L emitter on a 20mm star.  The centering insulator helps to perfectly center the reflector.

 

Under the pill is the massive reflector base.  Lets unscrew that as well and have a closer look.

 

Here is the reflector as seen from the rear.  The reflector and it’s base are one solid piece of machined billet.  Threads are deep and clean.

 

Here is a better look at the reflector from the side.

 

Here is a front view of the reflector.

 

When the reflector and pill are assembled in the head, they mate together as seen below and this allows the pill to conduct heat into the reflector, utilizing it’s mass to keep things cool.

 

A better look into the head.  Here you can see the square threads without all the grease.  You can also see the groove just behind the bezel lip where the o-ring sits.  The lens goes behind that then, of course the reflector and pill follow.

 

Here are the head components all together.

 

The lens is 1.66mm thick.  If the lens is AR coated I cannot see it.

It is also 41.7mm in diameter.

The pill and reflector base are both 45mm in diameter.

The pill is 9.27mm thick.

The reflector is 42.78mm across…

And is 31mm deep.

 

Here is the body with the cartridge removed.

 

A look inside shows us how the outer buttons connect with the switches in the tail of the cartridge.  Note the notch in the left side of the body opening.  This accommodates a bumb in the side of the cartridge to ensure that the cartridge only goes in one way – the correct way.

 

Here is a shot of the light disassembled and the button plate removed from the body.

 

A closer look at the tail piece/plate.

 

And the underside where extensions link the outer buttons to the actual switches in the cartridge.

 

Rear of the body where the tail plate mounts via four screws.

 

In this shot you can see how there is still plenty of room for even 18700 protected Xtar cells to fit.  Flat-topped and button-topped cells all work.

 

With the white rear switch cap removed from the cartridge we can see the switches for power and modes.  Pressing on the power switch will only allow on/off and signalling.  Only the smaller momentary switch can change modes.  Long pressing the mode switch changes between mode groups.

 

Here we see the contact side of the driver PCB.  It is held in the cartridge with 4 screws.  The inner dot is for the positive connection and the outer ring is the negative connection.

 

Here is what you will find under all that.  It’s a 2-part buck driver.

 

These R1 & R2 pads have the resistors that set the output amperage.  This is where I will be attaching by adjustable POT resistor to pump up the output.

 

Fully assembled the head weighs in at a hefty 114g.

 

BEAMSHOTS – Everybody loves beam shots!

Here you get a great idea of the beam profile and how nicely collumnated the beam is for great throwing.

Smooth, smooth, ringless spill!  In person the light is creamy white with no green or purple tint anywhere.

 

With the white balanced turned down a notch you can see the center spot and the corona.

 

Bumped down another notch…

 

And one more for good measure.

 

Here we have the UF-F10 next to the HD2010 to get a good idea of what to expect.  Keep in mind that the UF-F10 is only driven at around 1.7A.  The spill on the HD2010 obliterates the spill on the UF-F10.

 

Let’s knock down the white balance so we can see what is happening in the pic above.  You can see how the corona was making the UF-F10 appear brighter in the pic above.  In reality, the hotspot on the HD2010 is much brighter but it should be at twice the driven amperage.

 

Instead of apples to oranges, let’s compare apples to apples.  Here I am going to put the UF-F10 next to the KE-5/BT-950L light.  While still comparing 1.7A to 3A, the reflector and head sizes are pretty close this time and offer a more fair comparison.

 

In spite of the UF-F10 being driven little more than half as hard, it holds it’s own against the KE-5.  That corona is the only annoyance.

 

Bumped down another notch you can see the tint difference even though the pic does not show what you actually see.  You can see that the KE-5/BT-950L is much colder but not a heck of a lot brighter.

 

With the white balance turned all the way down the coronas look pretty similar and the UF-F10 just might have a cleaner edge around the center hot spot.

 

CONCLUSION

This light gets an enthusiastic “JohnnyMac” thumbs up!

It has a couple flaws but none that can’t be remedied by more power.  At just $26.63 for a TK35 clone, I believe it is the lowest priced clone of it’s type available anywhere.  Build quality is great (as the pictures show) and performance is surprisingly good for how modestly it is driven.  Add in 4 great modes and hidden blinky modes and there is little to complain about.  It didn’t come with a lanyard or extra o-rings but I really don’t care.  If anything ever happens to this one I won’t hesitate to buy another.  Everything that made the original Fenix TK35 great lives in this clone.  For the money I can’t recommend it enough!

On a side note, since Tmart was gracious enough to send me this light and brave enough to let the chips fall where they may, I ask that you support them whenever possible.  If you are considering getting this light for yourself, please buy it from them.  Can’t beat the shipping time (1 week for US residents) and the price (almost $10 cheaper than anywhere else I’ve seen).

This wraps up the review.  Feel free to comment and discuss.  Thanks for watching!

Johnny

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